Anniversary of dying (almost)

It was exactly a year ago–a Monday morning– that a couple of paramedics, thanks to a call from my kid and Cynthia, found me on the floor of my kitchen, passed out, resting in a pool of I don’t know what kind of bodily waste, about thirty minutes away from death. Kidneys not functioning. No blood pressure. No response.

Only Wednesday afternoon did I wake up in a strange bed (I thought I was standing up), surrounded by what seemed like a dozen nurses, two of my sisters, that kid, and a couple of friends. Of course I had no idea where I was. I’d been out of this world, it seems, since the previous Saturday night. And that brief window on Wednesday slammed shut (with another brief glimpse on Wednesday evening?) until sometime Thursday, probably after noon.

Diabetes hit me, and hit me hard. The complications shut down my kidneys, burnt out my esophagus, and I can’t remember what else. Normal glucose level hover around 100, give or take 20 points or so. Mine was about 1,400 when I entered the hospital. No more Mike-produced insulin. Now I’ll be shooting up this stuff from here out. Every night. Now THAT sucks, but not as much as the changes in diet. That’s my drug of (imposed) choice to the right>

But I’m in Rio, so, other than trying to avoid sugar, which is nearly impossible, almost all bets are off.

Oh, and more or less at the very moment I was loaded into the ambulance, Glenda was standing in front of a judge in Wichita, getting a final divorce decree. You think the two might be related? Well, stress and anxiety play a great role in glucose levels. I know when I’m stressed now, my levels go way up, like during Carnaval season. During my flights down here, levels were up. So, maybe not, but I think my awareness of what was going on in Kansas (not my idea, by the way, by no means was it voluntary) had much to do with this onslaught.

So TWO delightful anniversaries today. What to do???  Well, samba tonight will help some, I suppose. And I’m gonna visit one of Rio’s most traditional bars which is in the same neighborhood as the samba.

Last night I opted to try a highly recommended restaurant, famous for it’s Bahian cuisine, Siri Mole in Copacabana. What a waste!  Bahian food has deep roots in African cuisine, with a touch of native ingredients and some Portuguese, but it’s mostly the African. Bright red dende oil, made from the nuts of a palm (and refined for diesel fuel, no kidding), coconut milk, peanuts, dried shrimp, okra are some of those African touches. I began cooking Bahian food around 1980, and can do a decent job with certain dishes, especially moqueca, a stew of coconut milk, grated onions and garlic, hot peppers and dende oil; the main ingredient is usually shrimp, fish, soft shell crab (siri mole). I stick with shrimp. I’ve made it for literally hundreds of people, twice for 200 at a time.

So, moqueca de camarão it was. Oh, the price? Ridiculous at 93 reais, about 50 bucks!!!!  Why did I do that?  It was maybe 30% as good as mine, but for 50 bucks, I could make a better moqueca for 20 or more folks. I cook my rice in a mixture of coconut milk and water. Theirs was plain, maybe parboiled, like Uncle Ben’s. My moqueca just has more flavor, deeper flavors, more complex. I can’t believe this place is so lauded, and SO expensive (I’ve noticed all Bahian places in Rio are expensive). Maybe I should open a Bahian place in Portland….but it would be too much for those folks. “Where’s the tofu burrito list,” they’d whine. Don’t get me started. So, if you’re in Rio, do not go to Siri Mole.

P.S. Not only was the moqueca just average, the after dinner espresso was nasty. I didn’t drink it, I didn’t pay for it. This is friggin’ Brazil, and I have yet to have any coffee really worth drinking. But since I roast my own beans, and brew with a great Italian espresso machine, I’m spoiled. Coffee in Brazil is not fresh, not really, it’s ground in advance, and just not very good. Sorry, Brazil, but, in general, coffee in bars and restaurants really isn’t good. It’s better in peoples’ homes. But not always. I think it used to be better. There’s an awful lot of coffee in Brazil. So show me the good stuff!!!!!

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